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SXSW Panel Picker Attack Ad

In the final week to vote for the best SXSW panels, the election turned ugly. Ann Handley and I have always committed ourselves to a higher standard until we read a something on the internet that said negative campaigning works.   We’ve submitted a session proposal to share a few simple ideas for producing stand-out content on a grad-student budget.  We’d be grateful for your vote (registration required) in the SXSW Panel Picker.

We’ll share some behind the scenes stories on creating content for the IBM Smarter Planet campaign, Cisco’s Webby Honoree documentary, and other low-budget / no-budget series.   We’ll also talk about how to use improv principles to inspire a continuous flow of ideas to fill the editorial calendar for you content marketing strategy.

Thanks for your consideration.

Sharknado: Social Media Gold

The only wisdom I have to offer at social media conferences is this:

BtoBsharks

But it works in B2B content marketing.  And this week, Hollywood confirmed this maxim, proving images of selachian fishes captivate an audience even without a good script or a decent story idea.  Nielsen pegs Sharknado’s TV audience at 1.4 million viewers, on par for other SyFy Channel original movies, which cost an average $1.5 million.  Syfy Digital SVP Craig Engler reported that  the hashtag #Sharknado appeared 387,000 times on Twitter on Thursday night, hitting 5,000 tweets per minute at its peak.  The social media success, including celebrity tweets, created press coverage for the film, and I would image helped to build a large audience that will make the film one of the most success reruns on the network.

Although the Dollar Shave Club’s CEO revealed to the WSJ All Things Digital that the critical success factor for a viral video is to use a bear,  Tina Fey clarifies which beast is best.

If we’ve learned anything from Shark Week on Discovery Channel and literary classic characters like JabberJaw, if you want content to connect with an audience, just add sharks.

Special thanks to  Oakley Boren for creating this image at the Social Media Explorer OC conference.

social media shark quote

Image by Oakley Boren

sharknado

 

UPDATE:

7/30/13 The Poke: Blog of the Day:  Sharks Make Movies Better.   Hat tip Oakley Boren

 

 

 

 

 

BtoB Magazine: Elements of a Great Story

Usually the first question I ask when I’m preparing to produce a corporate video is “Can we film this in Burlington, Vermont?”  It’s a beautiful location, especially August through October.  But on our recent trip, the temperature on the lake with the windchill was minus 40.  Communication is challenging when your jaw is frozen shut.

Frozen Lake Champlain

Stalling so we could stay indoors a little longer, Steve Shepard and I had a chat with Ann Handley about corporate storytelling.  It’s featured in BtoB Magazine this week.

Shep_Tim

Plan to shoot your next video there, and schedule stops at Ben & Jerry’s ice cream factory, ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center, and American Flatbread. But keep an eye out for the lake monster.

The Marquette Beer Runner

My first visit to Milwaukee far exceeded the expectations, probably because most of my knowledge of the town comes from watching Lavern & Shirley. Tim Blair, a good friend and mentor from IBM now at Grant Thornton, invited me to speak at the PR + Social Media Summit, hosted by his alma mater, Marquette University.  Tim is still a mentor, but we’re no longer friends.

The event’s first speakers was Olympic sprinter Nick Symmonds who turned to eBay to auction real estate on his deltoid for a tattoo of a corporate twitter handle.  Creative agency Hason Dodge narrowly outbid Nick’s mom.  Before I try to sell tattoo space to raise funds, I’ll need to shave a few seconds off of my time in the 400 hurdles.

Molly McKenna, social media director at McDonald’s, masterfully blended humor, candor about taking risks, and  fascinating stories from the trenches, including a recent twitter battle  between two prominent mayors over a beverage ban, as an example of standing up for your brand on twitter: “RT @McDonalds .@MikeBloomberg We trust our customers to make the choices that are best for them.”  She’s one of the best speakers on social media I’ve ever seen.

After speaking on The Business Case for Nonsense and showing a few comedy videos and a clip from our documentary, Tim  Blair and I headed over to Sobelman’s, a burger legend featured on the Travel Channel’s Food Wars.   An excellent choice, as was our dinner the night before at the Iron Horse Hotel.

Custom Motorcyle

In addition to the speaker lineup that included some social media rockstars like Kathryn Janicek from NBC Chicago, Augie Ray from Prudential and Mary Henige from GM, one element that made this conference stand out was the host, Tim Cigelske, aka The Beer Runner.   Not only did he help everything run smoothly and was a fun guy to work with, but he’s an established SM leader as well. Check out his interview in Wired Magazine on combining his passions for craft beer and fitness.  I hope to return soon to spend more time at the river walk and tour the Harley Davidson Museum, but as Cigelske suggested, I think I’ll wait until after the Wisconsin winter, when conditions aren’t the same as Ice Station Zebra.

About the Comedy & Cheeseburger blog.

Gesu Chapel

BtoB Magazine: Take the time to lighten up and LOL!

In Paul Gillin’s BtoB Magazine column, he outlines a few different approaches to comedy in B2B videos, including one of the indisputable laws of physics: comedy comes from pain.  Check out the Top 10 B2B Comedy Videos Kipp Bodnar and Jeff Cohen’s blog.

Comedy at the B2B Forum

Edgar Rolando Diaz Emes was the first to reply when I was looking for help to film a telecom exec in Latin America. He works for Telefonica Moviles in Guatemala, so I figured he’d have some tips. He responded even faster than my former college roommate, maybe because I don’t owe him for a semester’s worth of cable bills.

complexity

Edgar helped me as if we were longtime buddies, although I had only talked with him briefly at a MarketingProfs event. But that’s the kind of immediate camaraderie you fall into with this group. Possibly because it’s helmed by Ann Handley, known in the industry as the “Brad Pitt of B2B Social Media.” She and her crew share a contagious spirit of fun and encouragement, along with a profound knowledge of social business.

The presentations are some of the most practical and useful I’ve seen at any conference. Think of it as SXSW without the tacos. It’s clear from the speakers that their intent is to authentically share “here’s what worked, here’s what failed, and here’s what we’ll try next time.” As part of a case study panel,  Elbert Lin discussed Boeing’s Design Your Own Dreamliner app,  Michael Brenner gave the backstory on SAP’s Business Innovation blog,  I talked about how we produced a B2B documentary on a shoestring budget; and offered a few ideas on how to find a storyline and produce it inexpensively. And then we had a little more fun in the closing session. [see video]

If your life involves creating content or storytelling in B2B or even B2C, you should join us in Boston, Oct 3-5, for the B2B Forum. It will be a fun and inspirational time — the opening keynote is Baratunde Thurston, former director of digital at The Onion. You’ll leave with a list of brilliant yet simple ideas you can start to implement the following week, and a dozen new friends who will support your social marketing projects and reply to you faster than your jaded college roommate.

Comedy @ WSJ Digital Download Event

I shared a few comedy videos at the Wall Street Journal Digital Download event Wednesday.  My buddy John Havens discussed his recent Mashable article on Accountability Based Influence.  Then, the traditional celebration after a corporate comedy performance — a cheeseburger. DigitalDownload_WSJ_733

There are a few burgers so luxurious that they require you to wear cufflinks.  DB Bistro Modenrne’s sirloin burger stuffed with braised short ribs, foie gras and black truffle demands such reverence.  Its price is $32, and that doesn’t include cheese.   But since it’s served on a Parmesan bun, and certainly the most decadent burger I’ll savor in my lifetime, I’ll count this experience for the cheeseburger blog.

burger

After the show, I went with the WSJ gang to indulge and laugh too loudly for a swanky restaurant.  A sentimental time for me as it was the same crew I was with when I launched the Cheeseburger & Comedy blog series at the New York Comedy Festival in 2009, sans Ricky Gervais.  Sometimes I feel like adults shouldn’t have this much fun.  But that feeling soon passes.  Thanks Melissa for setting this up!  (Pics below are from our first soirée)

Ricky Gervais backstage at Carnegie Hall

Ricky Gervais and Nancy McDonald, backstage at Carnegie Hall

NYCF After Party

NYCF After Party

5 Questions: Royal Wedding Planner Video

Five questions you haven’t asked yet about the royal wedding planner video because you are afraid to or possibly not interested:

Q1) Why did you do this?

A.  My boss asked me the same thing.  The Cisco router will connect the royal wedding (the real one for Prince William and Kate) video stream to the TV station for the broadcast, so this video is a fun way to celebrate.

Ms Fauntleroy

Q2 ) Who is Ms. Fauntleroy?

A.  I’m not sure if you’re asking about the character or the actor.  The character was inspired by the middle name of the wife of one of my best friends from college, Robert Spencer. The actor is Jenn Schatz, who you may have seen recently on 30 Rock “Double-Edged Sword” in a scene with Tina Fey and Matt Damon — neither were in our video.

Q3) Was this filmed at your home?

A. No.  We needed a setting that was more cozy.  The Lockwood-Mathews Mansion, with 62 rooms and 44,000 sq. ft. helped to create the intimate mood.  Special thanks to the mansion’s executive director Shelly Gerarden for his kindness and generosity, and to his staff, especially Brian, Jon and Susie.

Q4) Why didn’t you use a British accent?

A few folks have asked that before you did (Updated – thanks Elyse and David) .  We tried British accents for both Ms. Fauntleroy and the voice-over actor, but it didn’t seem to work as well.   Although I’m now filled with self-doubt.

Q5) The mansion looks familiar.

That’s a statement not a question.  But the mansion hosted scenes from House of Dark Shadows and The Stepford Wives –  both 1975 original film featuring Katharine Ross and the 2004 remake with Nicole Kidman — neither were in our video.

Comedy at SXSW

I presented at SXSW Interactive about the role of comedy in corporate social media, and was amazed at how productive the conference was.  I had the chance to meet with quite a few social media leaders — when possible, over BBQ — including Jeff Pulver, C.C. Chapman, Guy Kawasaki, Pam Slim, John Jantsch, Erik Qualman and David Meerman Scott. I managed to squeeze in some comedy, kicking things off with Conan O’Brien’s  documentary premier.

ConanChristopherOBrien.com

ConanChristopherOBrien.com

Rainn Wilson and director James Gunn dialed in the flight-delayed Ellen Page and put her on speaker to talk about their new dark comedy feature Super.

Super team.  Photo: Austin360
Photo: Austin360

Director Todd Phillips shared the backstory of some of his comedies like Old School and talked a bit about The Hangover Part II.

Todd Phillips.  Photo: Austin Chronicle
Photo: Austin Chronicle

Dined with Vince Thompson, comedian Matt Kirsch and the LA crew at the Salt Lick BBQ.

SaltLick

I wrapped up the visit with some classic Austin trailer food at Trey’s Cuisine for an amazing New York Strip burger stuffed with mac and cheeses served on a croquette.

Trey's Cuisine

Trey’s Cuisine chef Cowden Ward.

Trey's Cowden Ward

Finally, dessert at Amy’s Ice Cream with my favorite NEW YORKER cartoonist, Matt Diffee.

mattdiffee

Are you an Obsolete TV? There is Hope.

Multichannel News asked the tough question: “Where do old TVs go to vent their rage and feelings of inadequacy?”